Thursday, September 06, 2012Families looking for caregivers to provide help at home for their loved ones got a scare recently with a study published in the July 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study, conducted by Northwestern University, examined the hiring and screening practices of 180 responding homecare agencies, and concluded that families need to be cautious that the agency is not misrepresenting their caregivers’ skills and their agencies’ training and supervision.
The reality is that not every homecare agency offers the help a family may need. Some agencies may not provide adequate screening or training or put effort into finding the right fit between the caregiver and the client. The situation is often made even more challenging because it may be an unplanned need, making it both more important and harder to be selective in evaluating an agency and an individual caregiver.
To make sure that families get qualified help, families should ask agencies the following questions to ensure they find a right match:
1. How does your agency recruit caregivers, and what are the hiring requirements?
2. What types of screening and background checks are performed on caregivers before they are hired? Make sure that the agency has checked the caregivers’ background through legitimate records databases, not through an unverifiable agency.
3. Is the agency bonded and insured, and licensed if that is required?
4. What kind of health-related training, if any, do caregivers have?
5. Does the agency provide specialized and continuing education for caregivers?
6. What competencies will the caregiver have (e.g., lifting and transfers, homemaking skills, personal care skills including bathing, dressing and toileting, training in behavioral management, cognitive support)? Not every situation will require a caregiver with all of these skills, but it is important to know what a caregiver is able to do.
7. How does the agency assess what the caregiver is capable of doing?
8. What is the policy on providing a substitute caregiver in the event a regular caregiver cannot provide the contracted services?
9. If there is dissatisfaction with a particular caregiver, can he or she be replaced “without cause”?
10. How long has the agency been in business?
11. How does the agency stay abreast of new techniques and research in home care? Franchise agencies usually have a strong network of ongoing skills training to draw on, but every agency should be taking part in local network and education opportunities to ensure they are providing the most current care modalities.
12. Can the family meet the caregiver before the person starts work? Inviting someone into your home to provide care can be scary. Being able to meet and approve the proposed caregiver before hiring can be very important, and it’s one of the things a good agency will offer.
Source: Visiting Angels
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